Saturday, October 10, 2020

Daily Ramblings Part IV

 Today I spent a few hours in my happy place: my garden. My neighbor had extra dirt from a landscaping project she did, so I was able to use the leftovers to winterize my garden. I'm not sure I've ever put new dirt over the entire garden before...only in small areas. It looks wonderful.

This morning I had an old, dying bush taken out by a landscaper I just found over the summer. He is so precise and goes above and beyond what I ask him to. And his prices are reasonable. I put it out on Facebook that I needed a new bush to plant and wasn't sure what kind to get. More than one person, my mom included, suggested Rose of Sharon (a rose by any other name--Shakespeare may have been talking about this bush, so I'm told). I called the local hardware store to ask if they had a RoS bush and they didn't. I found a new, privately owned nursery. The gal I spoke to said she was heading to the main nursery and she would pick out the best RoS and deliver it to me. It's a blue satin variety, and it will be gorgeous when it blooms in the summer. It's just about going dormant, so this is the perfect time to plant.

What would I do without my horseback riding? More than any of the therapies I use to keep my body and mind in good working order, horseback riding is hands-down the most therapeutic. I love every minute of it, even when the horses have minds of their own, which occurs more often than not. There's nothing quite like it. And if you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that I started lessons at 53. I am proof that you are never to old to start something new.

With all that is going on in the world, it's a wonder that any of us can function. Somehow, we humans, are adaptable. I'd like to think that our moments of quarantine are giving us the introspection needed to make this world a better place while allowing us to build our reserves so that when life returns to some sense of normalcy, we are ready and eager to move on. 


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Daily Ramblings Part III

My house is getting cleaner by the day. Today I cleaned out our mug/junk cabinet and showed my oldest son and he said, "Looks the same." Let me grab a wall...
I also cleaned the top of the fridge. Be honest, when was the last time you did that? Seems like it's been a few months for me...had to dust it before I wiped it. Boy my days are so entertaining!

About three more weeks left of summer break with little direction on how this school year will go. I've noticed the surge of posts on Facebook regarding the reopening of schools. Administration, the state, the teachers, and they staff all have differing points of view which is creating a lot of stress not only among the teaching community, but among families with little kids that need to get back to work. A hybrid approach may not be best for them. But what is best for all of us? I wish I had an answer. This not knowing is causing me quite a bit of stress. The admin in my husband's district meet only via Zoom, but expect students will be back in the fall.
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One thing I have been doing the past couple of days that I haven't done in months is listen to my favorite music. I prefer quiet most of the time, but I needed motivation yesterday to clean (see a pattern here?) and got the house dusted in under an hour. Dang, that helped. So I did that again today and noticed my mood much improved. Most people (at least those I know) need music like they need air. I'm not one of those, but in small amounts, it really does lift my spirits.

I need a vacation from this summer break. Going back to work looks good. Maybe then I'll slow down on the cleaning.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

We Met at Size 8: My Adventures in Europe, Part IX

It's been almost two years since my last installment of "We Met at Size 8..." and over four years since my sister, Becky, and I celebrated my 50th in Europe. It is my hope that I am able to continue since the particulars have all but faded from my memory. What has stayed, however, is the feeling of wonder, excitement, and pure pleasure I was able to share with Becky and my sister-in-law, Erika.

My brother, Chris, was unable to make the trip from London to Spain, but his bride of three months was able to join us. Becky and I got her all to ourselves. Having grown up in Spain, Erika was the perfect companion. But much more than that, Erika was like an old, comfortable friend (whom we had only met a few months before). She felt like our sister.

Our apartment was in the center of Barcelona. It was spaciously quaint which was a comfortable landing pad after a full day of adventure.

Spain was a different world from London. Street vendors lined the squares. Upon approaching the wares, Erika would gently veer me away from them. These vendors were selling without permits/licenses. Every now and then you would see one of them fold the corners of their large blankets covering their merchandise and fling the sack over their shoulder only to set up in another less-watched place away from police. At one point, we saw a policeman talking with a vendor and a patron. Turns out, they may have both been arrested/fined: the vendor for obvious reasons, the patron for purchasing illegal merchandise. That could have been me!

Visual performance artists would also line the square. I was completely taken with them. My sister took pictures, which means that you need to tip. I guess Americans over tip...which is what I did. They sure liked us.

What was really hard for me to get used to was the two-hour lunches and dinner that starts at the earliest around 9:00. Erika had rented a car and took us outside of Barcelona to a small town. We had wanted to do some shopping while there. The courtyard, which was surrounded by stores/restaurants was deserted. We found everyone in one of the restaurants. We were there for two hours...at lunchtime! I asked Erika why we weren't getting our check. She explained that it is highly rude for a waiter to ask you if you need anything else or are ready for your check. Besides, what else could we have done but sit and enjoy ourselves. Everything was closed! Since lunch started around 2:00, we didn't have dinner until later either. One night it was almost 11:00 before we ate! (My oldest son has visited Chile twice in the past year. Just those two visits have all but changed his eating habits. Morning he eats something small, lunch is the biggest meal, and at dinner he just grazes.)

Time works differently in Spain. The relaxing vibe was so very good for my overworked mind. I could use me some Spain right now (see Daily Ramblings Part II). I'm guessing we all could.

Daily Ramblings Part II

Right now my ego has a strangle hold on my serenity. For some reason it knows best. Just ask it. My heart keeps saying, "Be patient. Things are always better than you believe them to be. Forcing things to go your way only gets you into trouble." Wise heart. I need to listen to her more.

I'm at a crossroads so to speak. Not having control over the outcome of these choices is turning my sacral chakra into a whirling dervish. I really dislike this feeling. Yet again, I'm judging my body's reaction to this stress as something bad. Maybe I can look at this differently.

Signals in the body that are uncomfortable are warning signs that something is out of whack. When worry becomes the forerunner of my thoughts, this is a sign that I need to back off. Years ago, I heard a saying by Glenn Turner that has stuck with me ever since: "Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." 

I'm writing this today to give myself something constructive to do. I need to give these worrying thoughts a place to express themselves so they can settle and move on. And does it really matter what the worrying thoughts are about? Am I better off ignoring them? 

At some point today, my ego and I are going to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting. Ego is a trickster, so I will have to be even trickier. No doubt it's already planning on how to have its way. But if I proceed with a gentle approach filled with love, compassion, and a willingness to listen, we might just come to an understanding where both of us win. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Daily Ramblings Part I


I am so bored. This is a new-ish emotion for me. Childhood, sure. I got bored. But as an adult with two kids. Nope. Yet here I am. Mid-March we were shelter-in-place. Was supposed to be two weeks off (including the spring break that followed). That turned into one month, then two without seeing my students face-to-face. Google Meets at my dining room table became my classroom. I have to admit, it was fun. I enjoyed seeing my students in their homes—interrupted by their brothers, sisters, pets, parents. But that, too, came to an end. My daily routine came to a halt. So, I decided to do all the little projects that needed doing. My kids just think I’m doing useless chores…they may have something there. But I committed to doing about three projects a week. Things were looking pretty good at home. I still have more (invented) chores to do, but I just can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm…as if I had any before.

And now this flippin’ heat wave. Nuts! My garden is my safe haven, my therapy, my respite from all things mundane. And I get beauty from all the time I put into it. Except now. The weeds are loving this humid, icky weather. Even at 8:00 a.m. the air is like a moist (hate that word) blanket.
So, on our nightly walks (which has been getting later and later to combat the heat) my husband suggested I start writing.  I used to write in my blog quite often with whatever fit my fancy at the time. But what to write about now? I got nothin’. Again, Jeff said, “Why not write about how bored you are.” I can do that.

I have hobbies that I love: the aforementioned garden and beading. Currently, I’ve been watching tutorials on how to bead rings and intricately designed bracelets and earrings. I ate that up. For about two months. I’ve explored as much as I had supplies for. Oh, and…Hobby Lobby is closed. Crap! Say what you will about HL, but I love that store.

But wait! There is something I look forward to every week. Horseback riding lessons! Just the hour and a half I spend grooming, tacking, riding, and occasionally hosing-down the horses is just enough to reset my meter. For the past five weeks, I’ve been lessoning twice a week to make up for the two months where we weren’t riding. This is the first week I have only one lesson. I need to rethink going back to twice a week. This pent-up energy needs an outlet.

Am I complaining. Damn straight I am. Should I? Maybe. Maybe not. When I teach my online meditation classes the one thing I discuss is noticing what you feel in your body and your mind. Follow your breath. Just notice. Well, taking my own advice, I am noticing. I notice that my mind is on a racetrack and I am an active participant—not the observer as I encourage others to be. If I follow the thoughts to my body I see that the epicenter of all this is in my sacral chakra (lower belly area below the naval). When this area is out of balance, which mine is at the moment, there is suppressed creativity, resistance to change, and suppressed emotions. I get that. I’ve been trying to find a reason for all of this, but it may be that I’ve gotten tangled up in my web of anxiety. I tell my students: make no judgement, just notice. Maybe if I put my teachings into practice, I might feel better.

So, if I can put it out there: maybe a couple of times a week I can sit and do just this: Ramble. I can then look back over the weeks and see how I am changing. The inner critic tells me that it is wrong to feel bored. There is so much to do. Look at all those other people who would kill to be in your place. It’s hard to silence that part of me. We all are allowed to feel what we feel. What we do as a result of those feelings might just define us.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Just a Moment in Time

So today I've been pacing. It's too hot to garden or take a walk, my house is already clean, I've been making jewelry (mostly earring and rings) I may never wear, and I'm about to go out of my mind.

A friend of mine contacted me yesterday with the prospect of going to a lake this weekend to reconnect. It has been years since we've seen each other. I said yes immediately. Our world has changed so dramatically. I am amazed and a bit chagrined at how much I have taken for granted. Conversations on the sidewalk with total strangers (with a least 6 feet distance between us) is so very welcomed. I miss all the little things: giving hugs when I see friends while I'm out shopping, trading Reiki treatments with friends and other Reiki Masters, and I miss stopping out at my favorite Mexican restaurant for chips and margaritas. (Though I was very grateful to my friends, Jan and Dave, for agreeing to meet for dinner al fresco.)

What this time has given to me is a sense of deeper connection with my family and online community. Thank goodness my kids still live at home. It would have been heartbreaking not to see them during the months of shelter-in-place. I feel for those who have children who do not live at home with their families. That must be so hard. And the elderly. I understand the reasons of keeping away from those who may have compromised immune systems, but I also think of the emotional pain these people must be feeling by not seeing family and friends. So I am very blessed and have to remind myself that the scenario could be different.

I have continued to take horseback riding lessons (with a two-month hiatus from March-May). The horses I ride give me such therapeutic benefits to my psyche. If you have ever considered taking up the sport, I highly recommend it. Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” No truer words were ever spoken about being with a horse. I have also started Facebook live events for meditation. I'm not sure who this is better for: my audience or me. This gives me an hour each week to really explore my breath and take stock of where I'm at right now. I feel relaxed and refreshed at the same time.

I think I need to take my own advice and allow myself permission to be a bit stir-crazy without judging myself. Sitting at the computer and doing my budget brought me to my blog...there is a connection, I promise. Just sitting here and hammering this out has done me good. I hope you all have bright spots in your day and are able to look at the benefits this year has brought to all of us. You may have to dig deep, but I assure you, they are there. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Then and Now

I found this post in my draft folder...I've dusted it off and added a post script. Life got busy, and I put this aside. Frankly, I'd forgotten I had started this...

Then...

This has been an eventful year to say the least. All the excitement I had in Europe with my sister, Becky, in March of 2016 still hasn't been completely chronicled in my blog...(My muse seems to be on hiatus.) My focus for 2017 was to dive head-first into my dream of becoming a yoga teacher. With a lot of hard work and dedication, I have now completed my 200-Level Yoga Teacher Training. While I am pleased to have this training under my belt, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There was a question at the end of the final exam that asked: Do you feel you are ready to teach? My obvious, knee-jerk answer was, Yes! But after giving it some thought I wrote "Yes and no".

What I have found with teaching yoga is that each person comes with different wants, needs, and abilities. Each time I feel I've nailed a posture and how to teach it, a student comes along who challenges that notion. To clarify: I put yes down on my exam because I have the desire and need to teach. I crave working with beginners who often say they can't do yoga because they are inflexible, too heavy, they have arthritis or chronic pain (the list goes on). I love it when students come up to me after class and say they had no idea yoga would make them feel this way. And I answered no because I am a student first and foremost. I do not always have the answers...more often than not I don't. But what I can do is teach students to listen to their bodies, focus on their breathing, pay attention to feelings that come up without attaching meaning to them, and for an hour or so, cultivate peace within.

A yoga teacher of mine runs workshops on creating vision boards. I have yet to take her class, but the idea of a vision board is intriguing. I have a hodge-podge of ideas, mostly surrounding my home and yoga career. I envision a modest home with enough space for my husband to have an office for his medical transcription and I would like a dedicated yoga room where I can teach. Of course, my home would need to have enough yard space to have vegetable and flower gardens. In my mind's eye I can see a therapy room off of my yoga studio with a large enough closet to store all the props I would need. One wall of my studio would have a ropes wall.

And now...

My yoga career has turned into something I hadn't envisioned when I started my yoga teacher training in 2017. When I started at Temple Yoga I hadn't seen myself as a Reiki teacher, but I'm finding this part of my practice invigorating and fulfilling. Since becoming a Reiki Master in 2000, I used it only on myself, my friends, cats, and my kids. I used it to help my family (furry included) and friends find relief or relaxation. I would do my best to explain how it worked, but always came up short explaining it properly. When Jenna, Temple Yoga's owner, nudged me to start teaching, it felt right. I have enjoyed every workshop I have given. What I love more than anything is to see students use Reiki and actually feel the energy flowing. Jenna also encouraged me to teach restorative yoga with Reiki. Reiki would be given to each student while they relaxed in a restorative yoga posture. My partner, Emily, and I (as well as a couple others who have assisted along the way) help each student to find peaceful bliss within the postures. Each time our class grows, it feels more and more like a pajama party.

I've become more open to the idea of new ventures and workshops with an ease I've never felt before. Just yesterday, I began taking riding lessons. My instructor is amazingly patient and encouraging. The horse is so gentle, yet strong. The opportunities that are coming in seem to be many. I am truly blessed.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Reiki Training Levels I, II, and III

What a wonderfully busy year! I achieved my dream of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and have partnered up with Temple Yoga (TY) in Downtown DeKalb, IL. However, what I had envisioned as my current future with yoga has been delightfully altered by the lovely Jenna, owner and director of Temple Yoga.

You see, she heard that I was a Reiki Master as well and wanted to combine both Reiki and Yoga into a class. Honestly, I had never heard of this type of class before. Upon further investigation, there is quite an insurgence into this type of experience. So a lovely gal, Emily, who also has partnered up with TY will be teaching the Yoga/Reiki classes with me as a Reiki practioner/Empath. I've had a treatment from her, and let me tell you, she is gifted. I am truly excited to begin my journey with her. But wait! There's more...

Jenna put a bug in my ear about offering Reiki training at TY. So, without hesitation, I will begin teaching Reiki starting April 22, 2018

I am beyond words...please contact me at amy.youthfulyogini@gmail.com to reserve your spot in this training. I have a limit of 6 people per training. I look forward to meeting you! Namaste



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We Met at Size 8: My adventures in Europe, Part VIII

I'm not sure what I expected when I went on a tour of the Tower of London. I had heard this was a piece of London's history I surely couldn't miss. While I agree it is an integral part of London's history, it was one stop I could have done without. I am quite squeamish, and didn't expect that the beefeater who lead our tour to share the brutal history so completely. It seemed that this man was going overboard. When I shared this on Facebook, one man (originally from England), responded that the beefeaters do this for our (American's) benefit. We found out later that the bloody history of the Tower of London wasn't as dramatic as it was presented. There were times that it seemed I could actually smell the carnage...the atmosphere really lent itself to spur my over-active imagination.

That same day we visited Westminster Abbey. I remember vividly the feeling upon entering the Abbey. Now, if I can only put those feelings it into words: profound peace, a vast, palpable presence...these descriptions don't do the Abbey justice. My emotions strangled my voice...I am not religious, so this reaction stunned me.  I believe that we are not alone, but my beliefs do not necessarily line up with organized religion. During our visit, there was a mass being given by one of their priests. It was breathtaking. To be honest, many churches leave me with a feeling of discomfort. Not the Westminster Abbey. I was at utter peace. We visited another cathedral which was beautiful, but there truly was no comparison.

Our tour of London ended with the musical, "The Book of Mormon". I typically avoid musicals, but THAT had to be the best production I have seen bar none. At the end, when the entire audience was giving the actors a standing ovation, I had bent down to grab my purse and felt drips on my hands. I stood up and looked at the ceiling thinking there may have been a leak. It was then that I realized I was crying. If you have read this far, you know how emotional I become when experiencing something profound. Well this play has been added to my list of one of my best experiences ever. If this production ever comes to a theater near me, I am taking my husband!

Afterwards, I had asked an usher where the stage exit was...I wanted to meet the actors. My sister, her colleague and I waited at the exit for the actors and crew to come out. I was able to meet one of the lead actors. He was simply delightful. We talked about the call he received when he got the part. He was a relatively new professional actor, and to get a call for the lead was a dream come true for him. The most interested person I met, however, was this tiny woman. I couldn't place her in the cast, but when I asked what her role in the production was, she said she was the costumer! (!!!) Her work was stunning. She had been doing this for more than 20 years, and this was to be her last show before retirement. She shared that I was the only person in her 20+ years that had ever stopped her to congratulate her on a job well done. Really?! For all my costuming friends at my community theater (Stagecoach Players in DeKalb, IL), I hope that you have received the kudos you deserve.

Again, I don't remember specifics about the sites, the names of places, actors names...but I do know that our day in London was one I will never forget. The following day, my sister and I were flying to Spain...sleeping that night proved to be a bit difficult. Anticipating the travel and the travel itself wear me out. Until next time.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My New Year's Dream Becoming a Reality

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I am passionate about all things yoga. About 10 years ago, I decided to try yoga to combat my chronic pain (since I was 12). I was desperate, depressed, and needed to try anything that would offer some relief.

A friend and co-worker of mine gifted me with a year subscription to Yoga Journal. That's all it took, and I started my yoga journey. For about five years or so, my dream has been to complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training program so that I can work with people who have dealt or are dealing with chronic pain. Chronic pain affects more than just our body. It affects our minds, our spirits, our connection with people and the world.

I have 11 more years before I retire from teaching. I would love to have a new career when that happens; but, I continually put off going through a program because the cost is exorbitant. So I've decided to stop the excuses and try a different route. I've set up a GoFundMe page to help defer the cost of the program. So far I have received five donations in three days! Please visit my page, and if this campaign resonates with you, I would so appreciate your help.

I hope each and every one of you are feeling blessed in your neck-of-the-woods.
Namaste